All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Two pretty famous opening lines from two very well-known novels, which hook the reader through curiosity - why was it the worst of times; how was this family unhappy?
Fanfiction also has some great openings - not always a sentence, often a few paragraphs that grab the reader, making you want to know why and how and when?
Pros fiction has a wealth of talented writers, and over the decades just about every trope and genre has been explored. I am definitely NOT a fan of AUs, but how do you like this beginning?
When I joined CI5 I was told I'd eventually be partnered, and would work as half of a team from then on. That wasn't so much a surprise as a disappointment, since I'd hoped to work solo. I'm not much for deferring to another bloke when the result might cost me my life, and even when I was in the military, even when I was in Africa, when you worked with the team or you didn't last long (professionally in the former case and literally in the latter) I was always sure that number one, me, Bodie, was the one I looked out for first. That's my law of survival - make sure Bodie okay, then worry about the others. Anyway, that's the way the others worked too. I mean, it 's the way the world works, right? So the sooner you learn the rule, the longer you'll live.
Well, I talked meself blue in the face, and that mean bugger Cowley nodded and smiled like he agreed with every word I said and then informed me that I was to report of Neddy Bastable (the Bastard, they called him) at seven o' clock Monday morning to meet my new partner, one Raymond Doyle, and to begin training as a team. I was not amused.
I was there, feeling apprehensive and very wide-awake, when my new 'partner' strolled in at two minutes to seven, looking like he'd only just rolled out of bed. In fact, he resembled nothing more than an unmade bed, all rumpled curls and dreadful clothes, and a battery-driven shaver buzzing away in his left hand like a nest of angry bees. "Hullo," he said, "you Bodie, then?"
I gave him my most disdainful look and nodded. "'Ave I time for a cup of coffee?"
The Bastard came up behind him. "You're not going to have time for anything, my son," he told Doyle rather unpleasantly, "not for a long, long time."
"Then maybe I should use the bog now," Doyle commented, switching off the razor and smiling seraphically. He disappeared for a few minutes, and when he came back he was clad in a black t-shirt, which did nothing for him, and a pair of ratty old jeans, which left nothing to the imagination. He went beyond sexy, this one, right to fantasy. By rights he should have been ugly, with a round battered face and messy golden-brown curls, but he had beautifully expressive green eyes, a mouth that begged to be not just kissed but devoured, and an air about him that made you think he was easily the most gorgeous creature on the face of the earth. He also had a walk that was nothing short of immoral. In fact, I found that each time he walked away from me I was in real danger of exposing some of my less orthodox preferences. My first impression of him as the original well-used bed was quickly being replaced by one of Ray Doyle as something well used in a well-used bed.
Fanny Adams, Cat Tales here I love that image of Ray's round battered face and messy golden-brown curls, and looking like an unmade bed!
Likewise Blakes 7. Did I mention that I won't read incomplete fic? Got sucked in by this one, though.
"Question Five-A: What is the prisoner's condition prior to interrogation?" Brett poised his light pen over the screen, his face carefully clear of expression.
"Fair." The older man licked his lips, as if to wipe away the taste of the lie. "The prisoner was slightly injured during the course of crashing his spaceship and then was lightly stunned during his capture, but as the chief interrogator on this case, I judge him fit to be questioned, with proper medical backup. Append medical report."
Brett dutifully wrote down the tissue of falsehoods. The prisoner had three cracked ribs and a concussion from the crash, worsened by the heavy stun administered by an overeager trooper. The prisoner had come to consciousness pale, sweating, in obvious distress and confusion, not only hardly knowing his own name, but not even seeming to know he was aboard a spaceship, which judging from the pilots he knew, was the worst of all signs. And the outmoded ship hastily summoned to take the prisoners from Gauda Prime to Sleer's headquarters had a medical unit barely adequate for simple first aid, much less for the reactions bound to result from a combination of his condition and the drugs Daggertt had spread out in front of him like a smorgasbord to be devoured.
Yes, so, Sleer's obvious eagerness for results made Major Daggertt nervous. So it would him, as well, but killing the prisoner might be literally fatal to the major's career and wouldn't do anything for his own, either.
"Sir, the medical report is..." Brett hesitated, searching for a more politic substitution for fabricated, "somewhat optimistic."
Daggertt waved the objection away. "The captain--the former captain--is not the target anyway, merely the pry bar."
Brett folded his lips over a "that doesn't mean he's expendable." But he'd seen those orders and seen that both of the Alpha males of the captured crew were of considerable interest to Sleer. In that case, why not use one of the women as an object lesson, if Sleer suspected their target to have a chivalrous streak? Or the Delta, for the quickest job. He was the type who'd break just from a tour of the interrogation room. True that Sleer's orders were clear and emphatic--use the younger man to get to the older one--but he didn't think that meant Sleer would welcome news that the man had been killed during questioning.
The senior interrogator turned to one of the guards standing on either side of the hatch--hardly necessary considering the state of the prisoner--and said, "Go get the other one."
So the show was to go on. Brett set the notepad aside, but close to hand, hoping it wouldn't end with him writing the obituary to a promising career.
The guard returned a few minutes later with the older Alpha, holding him up more than restraining him. Brett shook his head in disgust.
The man looked next door to catatonic, in no condition to pay attention to any horror but the vid that played behind his own eyes. Despite having the facilities for washing in the tiny brig, the man looked as if he'd not touched water or soap since they'd captured him, the aristocratic face streaked with dirt and blood that seemed to match that dried on the front of his black leather vest.
Daggertt had stepped around the interrogation table, half-hiding the young man restrained there. Playing for effect. "I understand you killed your friend. An unfortunate mistake. But still..he's dead."
The dead dark eyes flickered a bit, perhaps, and there might've been a hint of a flinch. But, after all, this was no news to him, who-- however he hid behind dirt and glassy numbness--surely knew the truth of his own action. But this was only the warm-up, a reminder of a past that could repeat in a slightly altered form.
"Of course, you still have a few friends who are alive...temporarily."
Daggertt moved aside, revealing the other man, tied to the table, naked, as Sleer had instructed, the light shining directly on him, bringing into sharp relief the greenish black contusions on the ribs, trailing down toward one bony hip. As if prompted, the half-conscious young man opened startlingly blue eyes and said faintly, "Avon."
The other man jerked infinitesimally in the guards' clasp, his expression flaring, as if his eyes were a flame being lit. Only for a second. Then just as quickly a mask of indifference settled over his face again. But that had given the game away completely--the pathological indifference before had been no pretense. This was.
Brett suddenly felt less pessimistic about the interrogation. Now they were getting someplace. Damned if Sleer hadn't been right.
He wondered where the woman got her information.
Survival, by Pat Jacquerie and Lexa Reiss
There's an earlier story in the series, and a sequel, but this one wasn't quite finished when the author passed away. Still there's enough there to sweep me up into the tale and desperately want to know how they got from the end of this to the events of the sequel.
And John's not really obsessed with Sherlock. Really. Not much, anyway. Except when he is.
John doesn't spend every waking moment thinking about Sherlock Holmes. Regardless of what his government-paid therapist might imply with a gently raised eyebrow, there are things in his life that don't involve Sherlock. (For instance: his family; nightmares of Afghanistan.)
John doesn't start every sentence with "Sherlock says…" or "Sherlock thinks…" or "Last night, Sherlock…" no matter what Harry says. Harry teases him about it but that's simply proof that Harry is, and has always been, painfully addicted to sticking her nose where it doesn't belong.
He doesn't think about Sherlock all the time. But, okay, there are times. Nights when he can't get back to sleep and he doesn't want to close his eyes in case he starts to hear gunfire. When he needs to think about something that isn't grit and blood and flickering lights, generators threatening to die and patients that get bumped to the end of the queue because they can't be saved but someone else might. While he loves London and her busy streets, while he loves television and books and all the things he can indulge in now he's home, it's not enough to stop him remembering. It doesn't hold his attention.
Sherlock, on the other hand, always holds John's attention.
Everything about him is strange and weird and just a little fantastic. He's brilliant and callous, but most of the time, he does so much good for people. He's churlish when it comes to Mycroft and mischievous when it comes to Mrs Hudson. He's a superb actor when it suits his purposes but most of the time, he can't even be bothered to be civil.
John wonders if he was home-schooled, privately tutored and kept away from other children; it would explain all the general knowledge Sherlock doesn't understand, all the social cues Sherlock tramples underfoot. But Sherlock knows people, even if he doesn't always understand them; he puts together patterns and explains people's secrets. Surely he couldn't do that based on social isolation. And the accent, the use of 'Mummy,' it all says public school.
John doesn't know, and he hasn't asked, but he wonders.
Sometimes, when it's very late and the night ahead looks too long, when there are phantom screams in the darkness, John thinks about sex. And Sherlock.
He's never seen Sherlock touch anyone who wasn't dead. (Not affectionately. Not without a specific, physical purpose.) Sherlock doesn't invite touch -- he's always fast and sharp and moving from this idea to the next, from here to there. Sherlock doesn't even share the sofa with anyone else. It's like there's a circle of space around him, big red letters screaming 'do not touch' and no one tries to break through.
It makes John wonder.
The Whore of Babylon Was a Perfectly Nice Girl by out_there It made me wonder enough to read the fic, too.